A new digital camera can produce an image every second theoretically forever – by using the same light used to take the picture!

A video camera based on a self-powered image sensor can run indefinitely without an external power supply. —Image courtesy of the Computer Vision Laboratory

A video camera based on a self-powered image sensor can run indefinitely without an external power supply (Image: Computer Vision Laboratory)

It’s all to do with the image sensor inside the heart of any digital camera, which is a chip with millions of pixels.

The key part in a pixel is something called the photodiode, which produces an electrical current when exposed to light.

An engineering professor at Columbia University in New York realised a photodiode is also used in solar panels but this time to convert light to electricity – the photovoltaic mode.

Shree K Nayar and his team used off-the-shelf parts to create a an image sensor with 30 x 40 pixels. In this prototype, housed in a 3D printed body, each pixel’s photodiode is always operated in the photovoltaic mode.

(Video: ColumbiaEngineering/YouTube)
An image can be produce an image every second of a well-lit indoor scene, according to a new story posted on the university’s website.

And while the image appears basic in the video above, the team thinks it is a “significant step forward” in developing new cameras that could work potentially forever.

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